Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pretty Popular for a Dead Guy

I was watching Paul McCartney in concert on TV the other day. He was playing to a festival crowd -- maybe eighty-thousand strong. As he got the end of "Hey Jude," the crowd, many of whom had been years away from being born when "Hey Jude" was written, joined in, singing the "Na-naaa-na-nanana-naaaah," part and it occurred to me that success is a bizarre thing.

Imagine being Paul. Imagine being a guy whose name is recognized by virtually everyone in the civilized world who is over the age of fifteen. Imagine that out of those people, most, if not all, can name a song you wrote and a good number can probably sing one on the spot.

How do you process that as an artist? If a crowd that size ever sang one of my songs, I'd crash to my knees and weep at the profundity. But Paul just kept playing. Why? Because he is used to being probably the best-known songwriter alive. I'm not saying he doesn't appreciate it at all; it's just . . . for the love of baloney . . . how do you get used to that?

Success is an odd thing, indeed. I mean, what happens when Tantalus gets as many grapes and gulps as he wants?

All I know is that it was cool to see the Foo Fighters in concert and Wembley and to watch Dave Grohl get emotional. He's no Paul, but he's a big success. At least he is still moved by milestones.

I respect Paul. I just feel kind of sorry for him, sometimes. (Magnanimous of me, ain't it?)

And talk about perspective: I'd be happy to sell three-hundred CDs.


  1. Hah! This is so funny cuz I was thinking the exact same thing as I was watching a concert that was FOR Paul McCartney at the white house. It was a bunch of different artists (some good some not... so good) playing Beatles/Wings/solo music while Paul and the Obamas sat there in the audience. How intimidating must that be to play Paul's stuff for him and how strange must it be to sit there watching your own concert?! Foo Fighters did a super version of Band on the Run, btw. :)

  2. Right, Elise -- chilling with the President. Where the heck do you go from there? The Foos are the shnizzle, though. (Wait -- did I just say "schnizzle"?)